“Mural” returns home to the UI Stanley Museum of Art after a world tour

“Mural” returns home to the UI Stanley Museum of Art after a world tour

After a nine-year tour of Europe and the United States, Jackson Pollock’s Fresco finally located at the University of Iowa, where it will be on view when the UI Stanley Museum of Art reopens on August 26.

Stanley Art Museum Director Lauren Lessing and museum collections staff are welcomed Fresco in his 3,200-pound crate on July 14. After acclimatizing to its new environment, Fresco rode the custom freight elevator to the museum’s second floor and is now on permanent display in the Chris and Susie DeWolf Family Gallery.

The 8-by-20-foot painting traveled more than 20,000 miles to 14 locations on trucks, cargo planes and boats and was seen by more than 2.7 million people after it left Iowa City on a planned world tour immediately after the 2008 flood. . Fresco marks a pivotal moment in Pollock’s career and is a beacon for art lovers everywhere.

The museum’s inaugural Homecoming exhibit will feature Frescoas well as more than 600 works of art in all media by some 500 artists.

Volunteers are needed

Be in the center of the action during the opening celebration on August 26-28 by volunteering to support various activities at the museum. Learn more here.

“We’re bringing home all the wonderful works of art that people have been missing so much – the rock stars of the Stanley Museum of Art,” says Lessing.

The new Stanley Art Museum building will be officially opened at 3:00 pm on August 26, followed by a grand opening on August 26-28.


In 2012, Fresco underwent two years of technical study and conservation treatment by research scholars at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, followed by solo exhibitions at the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Sioux City Art Center in Sioux City, Iowa. At the beginning of 2015 Fresco was the centerpiece of an exhibition curated by David Anpham and organized by the UI Museum of Art, Jackson Pollock’s Mural: Energy Made Visible, which traveled to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy; Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle, Berlin; and Museo Picasso Málaga, Málaga, Spain. After the exhibition closed in 2016. Fresco organized additional exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts, London; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.


Fresco is considered by many to be the most important modern American picture ever made. Peggy Guggenheim, New York’s leading dealer of modern art in the 1940s, was eager to introduce into her home a symbol of support for the new American brand of art she was beginning to support in her gallery. She commissioned Pollock to create a mural for her new townhouse. Pollock had to choose the subject, and the dimensions of the art would be enormous (more than 8 feet tall and 19 feet wide), intended to cover an entire wall. At the suggestion of Guggenheim friend and advisor Marcel Duchamp, it was painted on canvas rather than on the wall itself, so it would be portable. In 1947, Guggenheim closed his gallery and returned to Europe. Realizing the importance of the UI studio art program, she wrote to Lester Longman, head of the UI School of Art and Art History, on October 3, 1948, reminding him that she had offered to give Fresco to the University if he would pay to send him from Yale. He immediately replied that he was really interested and began negotiations with the university administration about the cost of transportation. Finally, in October 1951, the painting was sent to Iowa.

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